Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. Clarke won the award for services in sport.
Clarke learned he was being awarded from the Queen’s New Year List. He said the award was a “massive honour.” The Queen listed fifty five people from Northern Ireland in her New Year’s Honour’s List. Also on the list was golfer Rory McIlroy, who was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for service in sport.
After his visit to the palace he said meeting the Queen was more nerve-racking that winning a major tournament. When Sky Bet asked how the championships compared, he replied, “It’s right up there but the Open and the Ryder were much easier than this.”
He said about meeting the Queen, “This wasn’t a case of nerves, this was a great honour to meet the Queen. She asked me about the golf and the charity things as well.”
Clarke was accompanied by his second wife Alison and his two children. He said his first wife Heather would have been proud of him as Alison was. He added, “She would have been proud of me but more proud of the kids than me, sitting in there and seeing the Queen.” Clarke founded the Darren Clarke Foundation in his first wife’s memory after she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006.
Clarke, who is from Dungannon, won the Open at the Royal St. George’s in 2011. He was also a member of four victorious teams in the Ryder Cup and he was vice captain of the team when they won in 2010.
Other recipients of the honor included Kate Winslet, who was awarded an OBE for her services to drama and Gary Barlow was honoured for his services to the entertainment services and charitable work.
The OBE was created during the First World War in 1917 by King George V to recognise the people helping the war effort as both combatants and civilians. The Order also decided to award foreigners who had aided the war effort. The OBE is the order of chivalry of British democracy and rewards valuable service in a wide range of activities. The award recognizes service in the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service, and work with charitable and welfare organizations. There are currently more than 100,000 living members throughout the world.